Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Phone & Internet – getting connected

Two critical tools in today’s environment certainly as a consultant is your phone(s) and internet connection. The internet connection becomes especially important if you are using IP phones for at least some of your communications and this is the case with myself as I have once again got a Vonage phone as the most economic alternative to providing long distance and fax coverage.
The only choice I have for reliable Internet in Wainwright is Telus. However, as we all know “Business line” service is expensive and this is no exception and because I will have to pay for every long distance call on this number the Telus line will be for just that, local and incoming calls.
Now that the “provider” has been selected comes the topic of Contract terms. The folks tell me the only way rates go is up so it is better to freeze in rates for as long as you can (maximum term) but the risk is you cannot cancel early without paying some pretty steep penalties so like anything read the fine print.
Server Elite bundle or Managed services with a price tag difference of $50/month. So what do I get that is useful to me now for the extra money? Increased bandwidth (6 versus 4 Mbits and “no maximum” per month at least per the advertising but the contract has an actual value, guaranteed connectivity (managed means TELUS pings my modem every 30 seconds to make sure its working), 4 port router, and static IP addresses. Even though I am within a block of the main TELUS exchange in town the guarantee service is especially important to me in a rural location because even though my house is 2 blocks the other side of the exchange I have had the occasional dropped modem where I had to do a hard reset to reconnect. My daughter in Provost an hour away experiences “dropped connections” quite regularly – very frustrating in the middle of a file download or security update. Managed service needs to be ordered 4-6 weeks in advance though you do get provided an interim “regular” service to get you up and running.
People will likely wonder what is going on when they come to my office as I will have at least 2 phones on my desk plus a cell – definitely connected.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Workers Compensation – Just in Case Something Happens

In addition to government of Canada, another government agency you need to register with is the Alberta Workers Compensation Board, which provides “insurance” in the event of a work place injury. Rates are based on the type of work you do and hence the exposure and likelihood of you making a claim. The easiest way to open an account is to open Internet Explorer 5.5 or later and start on their home page at http://www.wcb.ab.ca/employers/ and click on the top left button/link “Open a WCB Account.” You are able to open the home page in any browser, I use Mozilla, but the registration application only works in Internet Explorer. You also need to have “pop-ups” enabled.

Other information that you need to have available includes your Revenue Canada Business Number and Social Insurance Numbers for yourself and any employees. The application page also asks you to list your competition for comparison of similar businesses so they can better estimate the likelihood of a claim submittal and hence your rate, and where you are doing business outside of Canada/Alberta. When filling out the forms remember that the company Director (you as the owner) are not treated the same as an employee.

Other items of note relative to the Workers Compensation Board is that you cannot enter a new employee into the system more than 15 days before their hire date and the maximum compensation available in the event of an injury is $72,600/year

Last but not least is payment of the premiums and they have made this part easy. The initial application is accompanied by a $200 deposit that can paid with Visa, Mastercard and other options. You can also choose to have any future/additional payments made the same way and they send you an invoice/receipt in the mail to confirm all charges which will keep the accountants happy.

Since most companies will ask you for your Workers Compensation number with their request for proposal or employment contract just to be sure that you have this minimum coverage so its best to get this done sooner rather than later as well. In many cases your client will also ask for General Liability and maybe Errors & Omissions insurance as well but that is another topic and saga all together.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Revenue Canada Federal Business Number

Well I have now made my first “big” mistake. By not obtaining my Business Number sooner I may have missed the opportunity to claim the GST rebate on some of the office equipment I have purchased since incorporating. This happened for 2 reasons. Firstly I assumed (we all know what that means) that I would get an information package from the governments in a timely fashion telling me to apply for my Business Number. Secondly, I did not know that you could only “back date” your registration a maximum of 30 days from when you actually apply and you need to have the Business Number to be able to claim the GST. I guess it’s not so bad if I miss the date because I did get 20% off on my computer and printer purchase versus the 5% GST, still 5% is 5%.

Now to the mechanics of the process. I initially tried to “self register” using the government’s web site at the following URL http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/bn-ne/bro-ide/rstrctns/chcklst-eng.html but after I had filled in all the forms I was informed that the maximum number of submittals had been reached and to phone 800 959-5525. When you call this number you get the “automated attendant” and can quickly fall into the no escape spiral, however as I accidentally discovered if you press the * key on your telephone you get redirected to a live person. Better yet, they aspire to answer within 2 minutes and in fact did so – our government at your service. Though the web application did not work for me it was worth doing since it prepared me for all the questions the Revenue Canada person asked. If on the other hand you want or need to back date your application, I think the phone in option is the better choice and it only takes a few minutes.

What information do you need to have on hand when making this application?
  • Corporate Access Number – this is the number that you received when you incorporated at the Alberta Registry
  • Social Insurance Number for all company directors so that Revenue Canada has a way to link your company with whom its owners are.
  • Address/place of business so Revenue
  • What types of accounts you will require:
  • Corporate Income Tax account (mandatory)
  • GST/HST account
  • Payroll Account
  • Import/Export account – if you manufacture goods.
  • Estimate of revenues for the year as this will determine the frequency at which you need to make your GST/HST statements/deposits.
  • Payroll frequency as this determines what set of tax tables will be used

With all this information in hand and Revenue Canada will then give you a 9 digit Business Number and an additional number for each of the types of accounts you requested from above; RCnnn for Corporate Taxes, RTnnn for GST, and RPnnn for Payroll submissions. You can also decide if you want to have your business year and taxes years coincide, or follow the calendar year (like your personal taxes). My suggestion is keep it the same as you business year (in my case August 1 – July 31) so you do not have to go through the whole year-end process more than once.

And that’s it. Now all I have to do is start keeping all the accounting records so I can accurately report this information and most importantly see how my business is doing.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Setting Up Bank Account

One more step completed on Friday when I was in Wainwright to help with the move into our new (almost a century old) house.

After a bit of research on the options for banks based in Wainwright, (BMO, RBC, Credit Union, ATB) I decided to go with the Royal Bank for the following reasons:

- lowest cost chequing acount ($6/month)
- international support (I expect to require access to funds outside of Alberta and ATB, Credit Union do not have a local presence outside the province)
- As I grow RBC have a "professionals account" where you have a linked chequing and savings account for $30/month.

As a new corporation, what you need to bring with you are your articles of incorporation and incorporation number from the Registrar. You also need 2 pieces of ID so that they know you are who you say you are.

The branch is only 2 doors from the house so it certainly is convenient and more importantly everyone I spoke to were VERY friendly. Tracey made sure I met the bank manager and was very helpful in getting me up and started.

Now the only "gotcha" was that in order for me to be able to do electronic banking, ATM and on-line I need to get a Convenience Card - for $8.50/month. Note to others, ask your banker when shopping for prices if the fee includes chequing and access card.

One final thing on banking (at least this post) BMO, has an interactive tool that you can use to determine which of their accounts is best for you based on the type of business and number transactions you expect to have.

Lastly, don't forget you can change your account types at any time by going to visit your bank.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Now Incorporated

I am now officially a corporation as I went to KVP (kvp.ca) last night after work and submitted the necessary documentation, along with associated processing fee. While doing this I found out that it is actually a 2-step process; NUANS search which takes 2-4 hours for results and then the incorporation itself. Total cost was just under $300.

NUANS is valid for 90 days after the search has been done and if you want you can do it yourself at https://www.nuans.com/rts-str/en/home-accueil_en.cgi for $20 after creating an account.

I had to do some additional research on the benefits of incorporating Federally versus Provincially and unless I plan to open offices in other provinces, there is no reason to incorporate Federally and then have to Register in Alberta as an Extra provincial corporation. In addition, extra provincial incorporation cannot be done by yourself - at least most Corporate Registries in the province look askance at you, which would mean having to hire a lawyer to end up in the same place I am now. IF I need to expand in the future to other locales, I will be in a better position to afford said lawyer.

Next step is to open a bank account on Friday when I am in Wainwright taking possession of our new house. BTW, our house here in Edmonton sold to the second viewer for very close to our asking price.

Of course I will soon get an information package from the Federal government to register for a tax account (GST, Payroll taxes etc.) Those will be other postings on how that process proceeds.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Incorporation Forms

I am fortunate that in Alberta a person can do practically all the steps related with incorporating on their own - with a bit of legwork. I have completed my research on Corporate Bylaws, Share ownership/Rights, and Appointment of myself as Director so I am all ready to go to a Corporate Registry office, pay the fee and become incorporated on Saturday.

The best references I found for the above information were from the government proper. Information on incorporating from the Federal Government at (French also available)
and the actual "interactive" PDF forms for Alberta Incorporation at

With this FREE information on the web, there is no reason to purchase an "incorporation kit" for upwards to $70.

BTW, it pays to shop around for fees the registries will charge as I got prices from around $275 up to $950 for the same thing.